Patterns of Democracy: Party Democracy Versus Personal Democracy

Institutional orders in democracies are differentiated according to their being presidential or parliamentarian, or mixed (Samuels and Shugart 2010), and per Lijphart’s (2012) well-known consensus-majoritarian distinction. This study proposes to develop a distinction that hitherto has not won a similar place in the literature. It is particularly pertinent to our times, since democracies have experienced party change (mainly decline) and politics have become increasingly personalized (to a different extent in different countries; see Rahat and Kenig 2018). That distinction is between party democracy and personalized democracy. The difference between the two is pronounced in many ways that pertain to their institutions (e.g., the government system, the electoral system and also the rules of the game within political parties). The expectation is that the institutional orders of democracies will be found in different locations between the partisan pole and the personal pole. Once the theory and methodology concerning this distinction is developed, this study will turn to examine the origins of cross-national variance as well as its political consequences.

The research project has three major objectives. First, it will develop a theoretical, conceptual and methodological base for differentiating and coding personalized and partisan democratic institutional orders. Second, it will look for the origins of the different institutional orders, the personalized and the partisan. Finally, it will examine the political consequences of these different institutional orders. 

In attaining these objectives, this study will make four significant contributions: 

(1) It will bridge the gap between existing theories on party democracy and personalized types of democracy and the actual structures of existing democracies.

(2) The models and indicators developed for this research will allow a re-examination of the linkage between political institutions and phenomena that are central in contemporary research, from women’s representation and the decline of democracy to populism.

(3) The proposed distinction might change the way in which we compare democratic regimes, or at least add a new dimension to already-existing categorizations. And

(4) The findings will be developed into recommendations, to promote worthy causes like gender equality and democracy



Lijphart, Arend. 2012. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms & Performance in Thirty-six Countries, Second Edition. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Samuels, David J., and Matthew S. Shugart. 2010. Presidents, Parties, Prime Ministers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rahat, Gideon and Ofer Kenig. 2018. From Party Politics to Personalized Politics? Party Change and Political Personalization in Democracies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.



List of ongoing studies on the topic of collegial versus personalized patterns of democracy


Personal versus collegial legislatures 

Chen Friedberg, Avital Friedman, Shahaf Zamir


Personnel vs. Collegial National Executives

eyal Ben Shimolsupervised by Gidi Rahat


Partisan and personal election and selection

Or Tuttnauer and Gideon Rahat


Personal and collegial political parties 

Gideon Rahat


Personalism and populism

Odelia Oshri, Gideon Rahat, and Shahaf Zamir


Personalism in local government in Israel 

Hila Jerushalmi, supervised by Gideon Rahat


Personalism and Personalization in Non-Democratic Regimes in the Middle East

Bingchen Liu, Supervised by Wael Abu-‘Uksa and Gideon Rahat